West African bloc ECOWAS will maintain its sanctions on Mali until a civilian prime minister is appointed, ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday.

A decision on whether ECOWAS will lift its sanctions against Mali was expected following the swearing-in ceremony of Bah Ndaw, according to Jonathan.

“The issue of the sanctions…in Accra, the chair of the Authority of Heads of States and Governments, the President of Ghana, made it very clear that immediately a civilian prime minister is appointed sanctions will be lifted. ECOWAS still stands by that,” Jonathan said.

“That statement is based on the fact that the responsibility of the vice-president, as discussed in Accra, will be maintained.”

In mid-September, ECOWAS said it would lift sanctions once its conditions were met, including the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister.

ECOWAS’ pronouncement came after Ndaw, a retired army officer, was sworn in as the country’s interim leader in Bamako. Ndaw, 70, is tasked with presiding over an 18-month transition back to civilian rule following last month’s military coup.

Ndaw, who also once served as Defence minister, is a well respected individual in the military and by the general public.

Military junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita was also sworn in as the vice president of the transitional government during the ceremony.

Some of the sanctions on Mali, used as leverage in negotiations to restore normalcy in the country, include closing borders and restricting trade and financial flows. They, however, do not affect basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

ECOWAS had threatened a “total embargo” on the country if the junta decided to appoint military leaders of an interim government.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was ousted from office on August 18 following mass civilian protests against his administration over corruption, the mismanagement of the economy and the fight against Islamist insurgents and a dispute over legislative elections.